LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Southern California family supported their son throughout his coming-out process and are encouraging others to do the same for their loved ones.
Sunday, Oct. 11, marked National Coming Out Day in the United States, and along with year-long opportunities to show support to the LGBTQ community, a local Christian leader wanted to ensure his message of love is shared.
Danny Cortez, a Southern Baptist minister, said he had to re-examine the doctrines he clung to.
“I remember telling myself, you know, I don’t think I believe what I used to believe,” Cortez said.
He said his Christian faith remains strong, but it is his outlook on the LGBTQ+ community that has changed.
“I don’t see anywhere in scripture that actually condemns same-sex love,” he said. “The word homosexual didn’t exist.”
“You look at someone marginalized and you see this is how to love,” Cortez said.
Months of research came into play when Cortez’s son Drew came out as gay to his parents, while Drew was in high school.
“He was driving me to class and then a song comes on and the song talks about the LGBT community,” Drew said.
Cortez asked his son about the song and Drew said the way the conversation flowed made him more comfortable about opening up.
“I am gay, Dad,” Drew said recalling the story.
While his parents never wavered in their support, Drew was getting ridiculed by some students at school and some people in the church as well.
“One of the elders started asking another elder what’s our budget for severance for Danny? And I was like oh gosh, I’m done,” Drew said.
Research shows that attempted suicide rates among people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer is significantly higher than among the general population, according to the Trevor Project, which provides assistance to youth who identify as LGBTQ+.
The Trevor Project says youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than eight times likely to attempt suicide as peers who report no or low levels of rejection.
“The reaction I got from my circles were not good,” Drew said.
Friends were told they couldn’t spend time with him anymore, and Drew grew increasingly isolated and sad, which resulted in depression and self-harm.
Thankfully, Drew was able to get help and says he is now living a happy and healthy life.
While his father has founded a new ministry called Estuary Space, which helps families all year long, not just on National Coming Out Day.
The ministry describes itself as “helping people navigate through the nuances of human sexuality and the Christian faith,” according to its website.
“For me, scripture says to love God and love neighbor. And I believe that the way we love God best is by loving people,” Cortez said. “God wants me to love my son.”
If you are thinking about suicide and in need of immediate support, please call The Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678-678 or click here to connect with a counselor. Help is available 24/7.
For mental health assistance in California, select your county’s website here for resources.